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Trump Threatens Funding For Schools That Don't Reopen; Rescue Efforts Underway As Death Toll Mounts In Japan; United Airlines Warns Of Possible Furloughs; U.S. Passes 132K Deaths, 3 Million Cases; Hospitalizations Up in Hardest Hit U.S. States; Universities Sue Trump Administration over Visas; Millions under Six-Week Lockdown in Melbourne; Hong Kong Reports Surge in Local Transmissions; Serbia Riots in Response to COVID-19 Curfew. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired July 9, 2020 - 02:00   ET




PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Paula Newton.

Coming up, why the White House wants students back in class in time for the new school year, even though coronavirus cases keep climbing at an alarming rate.

Hong Kong is facing a so-called third wave of infections after having battled to get the pandemic under control.

And to Australia, where a border closure to fight the outbreak is causing other headaches.


NEWTON: The surge in coronavirus cases in the United States is not showing any sign of letting up anytime soon. The country passed 3 million infections Wednesday. Mike Pence says more than 1 million Americans have recovered from the virus but it's not just about infections.

Eight states, including California, Texas, Georgia and the Carolinas, are now seeing record hospitalizations. Arizona has the most cases per million people. New infections in that state have topped 3,000 per day.


DR. HANNAH DILLON, CORONAVIRUS PHYSICIAN: Our ICUs have been full in Arizona for some time. I know we have beds available here and there and we have something called a surge line that allows hospitals to transfer patients between various institutions where there are resources.

We have been doing that, now, for some weeks, having to transfer to patients to a hospital that has to beds for them and the next day our hospital accepts the patient or 2 that has a bed for them.

So it has been a real challenge to get patients to get the care they need and the physicians, the nurses are excellent. Our health care teams are really being stretched to their limits at this time.


NEWTON: And it's not just in Arizona. California and Florida are dealing with a spike in new cases. We get details from our Nick Watt in Los Angeles and Rosa Flores in Miami.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Some pretty scary numbers coming out of California and they are hospitalizations. This is a concrete number, a fact you cannot argue; oh, it's just more testing. It is people in the hospital.

And in the past two weeks, the number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital in California are 44 percent. We just have spoken with a hospital in Ventura County, just north of Los Angeles, where they say their ICU is now full.

Now here in L.A. County, home to 10 million people, they are worried that the death toll, which is already beginning to creep up, will rise further.

And they are saying that schools here, school districts here, would be prudent to have a distance learning plan in place in case those numbers do not improve, in case schools cannot open as normal here in the fall.



ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Miami-Dade County just released their latest positivity rate and it went up from 27 percent to 28 percent. And the goal from the county, according to the mayor's office, is not to exceed 10 percent.

Well, they have exceeded that for the past 14 days when it comes to hospitalizations; in the past 13 days there has been an increase of 70 percent; ICU units, 84 percent increase; ventilators, 116 percent.

Miami-Dade County, where I am, is the epicenter of this crisis in the state of Florida. It accounts for about 24 percent of the more than 220,000 cases but it's not the only metropolitan area that's been impacted.

Jacksonville was just deemed by HHS a hot spot, so much so, the federal government is now setting up a testing site there and they are hoping to test at least 5,000 people per day. The mayor of Jacksonville, Lenny Curry, is now in quarantine because of possible COVID-19 exposure.


NEWTON: That was our Rosa Flores.

Now in Texas, it's opening a new testing center, offering 5,000 free COVID-19 screenings every day over the next week. But hospitals and health care workers there are still finding it very difficult to cope.

DR. PETER HOTEZ, BAYLOR COLLEGE: Even though we do have bed capacity in places like Texas, still, in many cases, the hospital staff is getting exhausted. And you know we to don and doff PPE multiple times a day is exhausting.

And seeing colleagues getting sick, so staff is starting to get demoralized. And as it becomes harder to take care of patients, it hasn't happened yet and that's when the mortality rate starts to increase. We saw this in New York, we saw this in Italy.


HOTEZ: So we haven't seen those deaths spiral up yet but it's just a matter of time because it's patients on the ICU for periods of time. So this is an extraordinary humanitarian tragedy unfolding. And we are doing it more or less without the government of the United States, without the federal government. Just the states pretty much on their own at this point.


NEWTON: Now President Trump is lashing out at guidelines the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has set for schools to reopen, calling them, in fact, impractical, tough and expensive. So now the CDC say it will issue new guidance within the next few days. More on that from CNN's Kaitlan Collins.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The CDC director on defense after President Trump publicly attacked his agency's guidance on reopening schools.

DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, CDC DIRECTOR: I want to make it very clear that was not the intent of CDC guidelines is to be used as a rationale to keep schools closed.

COLLINS: Dr. Robert Redfield sought to defend the guidance, but hours after President Trump publicly complained that it was too tough, vice president Mike Pence said that's why the CDC will issue new guidance next week.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The president said today we just don't want the guidance to be too tough. And that's the reason why next week CDC is going to be issuing a new set of tools, five different documents that have been giving even more clarity on the guidance going forward.

COLLINS: The original guidelines include refitting classrooms so students can social distance, closing shared spaces and updating ventilation systems, though it's not clear what Trump disagreed with.

Asked if he was changing the guidance to appease the president, the CDC director said this.

So are you going to change that guidance because the president said that he does not like it?

REDFIELD: We will continue to develop and evolve our guidance to meet the needs of the schools in the states that we continue to provide that assistance to.

COLLINS: The president has said publicly that he'll pressure governors to put kids back in classrooms this fall. And today he threatened to cut funding if they don't. The Vice President described that as a sign of leadership.

Can you explain why the president is threatening to cut funding from schools at a time when educators are saying they need more so they can safely reopen?

PENCE: Kaitlan, first and foremost, it's what you heard from the president and it's just a determination.

To provide the kind of leadership from the federal level it says we're going to get our kids back to school because that's where they belong.

COLLINS: While Trump has little control over the majority of school budgets, the federal government could withhold emergency relief funding that educators have said they desperately need to safely reopen. The Education Secretary said she agrees with the president.

BETSY DEVOS, EDUCATION SECRETARY: They must fully open and they must be fully operational.

COLLINS: The administration has said it's up to schools and local governments to decide how they reopen. But they struggled to explain why that doesn't also include when.

PENCE: It's just as the president said early in this pandemic that he wanted to get our places of worship back open again.

COLLINS: New York City's mayor appeared to ignore Trump's threat today and announced that the nation's largest school district won't fully reopen this fall. New York's governor said Trump's threats have no legal basis.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): And you're not going to bully New Yorkers. That's not going to happen, right?

Threatened me, threatened me, threatened me, how many times have we been through this? I'm still here, right?

COLLINS: At the second taskforce briefing in months, Dr. Anthony Fauci was noticeably absent. Yesterday, Trump openly criticized Fauci during an interview. TRUMP: You know, Dr. Fauci said don't wear a mask. So now he says wear them and he said numerous things, don't close off China, don't ban China and I did it anyway. I sort of didn't listen to my experts and I ban China we would have been in much worse shape.

COLLINS: So instead of attending the meeting with the other task force members, Dr. Anthony Fauci was told to watch it via teleconference, that's why he wasn't at the briefing.

When the press secretary was asked if the president still has confidence in Dr. Fauci, she didn't say yes but said that he has confidence in the consensus of his medical advisers -- Kaitlan Collins, CNN, White House.


NEWTON: University of Southern California is joining a lawsuit against the Trump administration over a new policy that puts the visa status of foreign students at risk. Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology or MIT, filed the lawsuit earlier this week.

Under the new requirements students must attend at least one class in person or risk losing their visa status. Now it comes as universities shift to online only classes to protect their students and faculty's health.

And it could result in thousands of students being deported. The state's public university, the University of California, also said it plans to sue over the rule.


NEWTON: Now to Latin America where coronavirus infections are soaring. Mexico just set a daily record with nearly 7,000 new cases on Wednesday alone. The total number has now surpassed 275,000.

And in Bolivia, one of South America's poorest countries, there are close to 43,000 confirmed infections. Hospitals in major cities of El Alto and La Paz are full.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We collapsed about two months ago, we are tending to our people as we can on stretchers, wheelchairs, however we can attend to them. We have collapsed.


NEWTON: Brazil is second to only the United States when it comes to COVID-19 infections. It's now up to more than 1.7 million. Bill Weir shows us the situation in Sao Paulo.


BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is another day of more open shops, restaurants, bars and big cities like Sao Paulo, another day of rising numbers of COVID-19 infections and mortality. They are up to averaging over 1,000 deaths a day now.

And among the infirmed (sic) -- the confirmed infected now, of course, the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, who is using the opportunity to double down on his policy of using malaria -- antimalarial drugs and hard work to get Brazil back up and running.

Meanwhile, an association of Brazilian journalists is threatening to sue the president for endangering their lives by removing his mask during his press conference to announce he had the coronavirus.

This fight goes back to a battle that went to the supreme court over properly releasing COVID-19 daily numbers, infections and deaths.

Also, there are corruption allegations swirling around this president, whispers of impeachment and so, the pandemic is just one challenge for the man running Brazil these days.

In the meantime, vaccine trials are ongoing now. And there is fresh concern about indigenous communities becoming infected in towards the Amazon and other rural areas. There are even plans to send out a military operation to bring them the same medicines that president Bolsonaro is using.

But another day, in which this pandemic is just dominating the news -- Bill Weir, Sao Paulo, CNN.


NEWTON: In Australia, millions of residents in Melbourne are under a new 6-week lockdown as the country battles a resurgence of the coronavirus. Now the state of Victoria has closed its borders with New South Wales, and Queensland premier says visitors from Victoria will in fact be turned away. CNN's Anna Coren has been following all of the developments for us.

And Anna, again, going into the 6-week lockdown, most people hope it is only 6 weeks, they really are getting used to a new reality, right?

Something we haven't seen in a century.

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. The prime minister, Scott Morrison, addressed the nation today, thanking Victorious, really, for what they are doing. Locking down for the next 6 weeks.

That came into effect at midnight. And the Victorian health authorities, they have announced 165 new cases. That's the second highest number, really, for over a week. It just gives you an idea as to the fact that this is not going away.

You mentioned that New South Wales has shut its border; Queensland announced in the last couple of hours it will do that as of midday tomorrow. But the prime minister, warning the rest of the nation not to become complacent because states and territories are not immune from another coronavirus outbreak. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COREN: As the city of Melbourne prepares for its second lockdown in a matter of months, residents stock up on necessary supplies and finish some last-minute shopping that will help get them through the next six weeks.

EMILY BLISS, COVID-19 SCREENING CLINIC WORKER: I was a bit nervous coming in, but compared to last lockdown, there's a lot more product in there, which is quite surprising.

COREN: A surge in coronavirus cases in the Victorian capital prompted the state's premier to take drastic but necessary action. Forcing Australia's second largest city with five million people to self- isolate from the rest of the country.

DANIEL ANDREWS, PREMIER OF VICTORIA: This, as I said, not the situation that anybody wanted to be in, but it is the reality that we must confront, to do otherwise is to pretend that this isn't real. To pretend that we have other options.

COREN: With more than 1,200 active cases in Australia, Victoria alone makes up two-thirds of the nation's total. A surge that has occurred in just over a week. The prime minister warning while the outbreak is serious, it's not surprising. Considering the highly contagious nature of the coronavirus.

SCOTT MORRISON, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: We are all Melburnians now when it comes to the challenges we face. We are all Victorians now because we are all Australians. We will prevail.


MORRISON: And we will get on top of it, and we will protect the rest of the country.

COREN: But there have already been breaches in the system. A Jetstar flight from Melbourne carrying 137 passengers allowed 48 of them to disembark in Sydney without any screening. Authorities now scrambling to trace those who left the airport without being checked.

But no such risk is being taken at the New South Wales Victorian border, hundreds of police and military are manning 55 road crossings along 1,000 kilometers, turning back vehicles trying to enter the northern state, and potentially spread the virus.

It's the first time since the Spanish flu, more than 100 years ago, that the border has been closed. Thousands of permits have been issued for those who live in townships that straddle both states, including Chris Carter, whose 29-year-old wife, April, is being treated for terminal bone cancer at the hospital located on the border.

CHRIS CARTER, VICTORIA RESIDENT: Our home is in Victoria, kind of thing, we crossed into New South Wales every day to come to this hospital. I mean, almost every day. But here in the border closures I'm just like, I'm not going to stress about that. I'm going to stay here, so luckily the hospital can give me a bed.

COREN: The couple met at university, and tied the knot three years ago. 12 months later, April was diagnosed. Family members raced to the hospital before the border shot, after learning her condition has rapidly deteriorated. Doctors have given her only days to live.

CARTER: It's a bad year for everyone, it's a really bad year for me.


CARTER: Yes, I don't know.


COREN: Now Chris Carter's family was on the Victorian side of the border, they were trying to get a permit. That permit came through earlier today. So they are now with April, spending these last precious days, if not hours, together.

And Paula, I think these sorts of stories remind us that the heartache that people are going through in their everyday lives, apart from COVID-19, has just been exacerbated by this virus.

NEWTON: And what most of us, thankfully, can contribute to is an inconvenience to being lockdown for six weeks. For these people, it adds to, already, some very profound suffering.

Our Anna Coren there, appreciate you following the story.

Australia has suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong. Prime minister Scott Morrison says China's new national security law created a fundamental change in circumstances. He also announced a pathway to permanent residency for Hong Kong citizens who do want to leave the city.

Students or skilled visa holders in Australia will get an extra 5 years on the and will then be eligible for permanent residency. Now there's been outrage and protests in Hong Kong despite the new law targeting what Beijing considers subversion and terrorism.

Hong Kong had been winning. In the meantime we will talk about the virus in Hong Kong. It had been winning its fight against the virus. But now it's reporting a surge in cases. Why officials saying they could lead to a major outbreak.

Plus, Serbians were asked to observe a weekend curfew to slow the coronavirus. They responded with violent protests.




(MUSIC PLAYING) NEWTON: Now there's been a sudden surge in new COVID-19 cases in Hong

Kong. Health officials say this is now their third wave of infections. What has them worried is that the majority of cases reported on Wednesday were locally transmitted and this comes after Hong Kong had already managed to get the virus under control.

CNN's Will Ripley joins me now, live from Hong Kong.

Will, in the graph that we just showed, it makes it seem as if, you know, Hong Kong's peaks were pronounced. But it's really relative, right, in terms of the number of cases. Yet this seems to unnerve the city.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just over 1,300 coronavirus cases, more than 1,200 of them fully recovered, only 7 deaths here in Hong Kong. This is the city that came up with this, the electronic wrist band that we will have to wear, including myself when I came back from Japan, and have to be quarantined in a home for 14 days with health and police potentially being notified if this wristband says that you left your home.

Despite those precautions, shutting down the border early with Mainland China, not allowing anyone in right now who is not a Hong Kong resident, there still are potential loopholes, obviously, because you had in the last 2 days, 38 new cases, many of them community spread.

Local transmission and some of those cases, they cannot even detect where the virus actually came from. The contact tracing hasn't taken them anywhere and that's really troubling because we know from experience that small numbers can turn very big very quickly with the pandemic if you start to let their guard down.

There are some things in Hong Kong that keep us perhaps safer -- everybody wears a mask. When they step outside of their house. Pretty much without exception. If you go into a building, you are wearing a mask. But you are not allowed to go out to dinner with large groups of people and no one is wearing a mask while eating.

You have people like flight crew and diplomats who come in and they have to be tested for coronavirus at the airport. We have a whole test center set up there but they don't go through quarantine and they can walk freely in the city.

So we haven't heard yet from the Hong Kong government what measures may be taken now, if these numbers continue to increase.

Will they go back to the lockdown?

Those type of things we saw earlier this year, with the courts closed. A lot of businesses ordered to be closed. You know, people working from home as a result. People are now back at the office in large part.

But I will say, our CNN offices today, Paula, are closed as a result and overabundance of caution, we will do a deep clean through there and we are told all of us should work from home today, which is exactly what we are all doing.

This is just the reality of living in the age of COVID-19. You can go back to normal but then just as quickly, you might have to reverse course if the numbers start to climb up again.

NEWTON: And I have to go, Will, but I've got to point out before you go. You're in Hong Kong, over 7 million people, a few dozen cases, you are working from home again. The city is really contemplating what to do.

I'm in the state of Georgia, almost 4 million residents, well over 3,000 cases today in this state, bars are open, restaurants are open, people are out and about. It must be stunning for you to hear that from where we are right now.

RIPLEY: It's interesting to watch from afar, it really is and this is not a bad place to be during this pandemic, that's for sure.

NEWTON: I know a lot of Americans are watching these numbers very closely and trying to figure out where they fit in. Will, again, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Thousands of protesters in Serbia's capital targeted the president building for second night after the president announced a curfew for the weekend. Serbia seeing a second major spike in COVID-19 cases. And many people blame the president. CNN's Milena Veselinovic reports.


MILENA VESELINOVIC, CNN PRODUCER: Riots erupted in Serbia's capital Belgrade for the second day in a row, as a furious crowd raged against the leadership of President Aleksandar Vucic.

On Tuesday, Serbia suffered its deadliest day yet from the virus, prompting Vucic to announce a weekend curfew to try curb the surge in cases. But this sparked violent unrest that evening.


VESELINOVIC: With protesters surrounding the parliament building and breaking into the lobby before they were pushed back.

On Wednesday, Vucic backtracked on his commitment to the curfew, saying that other measures could be introduced. He blamed extremists and foreign intelligence for staging the protests.


ALEKSANDAR VUCIC, PRESIDENT OF SERBIA (through translator): This political gathering was well organized. Our security services underperformed because we saw only later that there was a criminal and foreign involvement of foreign agencies.


VESELINOVIC: Vucic urged people not to protest again because the virus is surging. Earlier saying that the situation was alarming. But demonstrators say that is his fault. Alleging Vucic lifted lockdown too soon so he could hold parliamentary elections in June.

They were the first in Europe during this pandemic. Opposition parties, most of whom boycotted the elections, accused Vucic of using coronavirus legislation to entrench his rule. All accusations that President Vucic denies.

But Serbia went from one of Europe's strictest lockdowns to bars, restaurants and nightclubs working at full capacity by early May. There wasn't much social distancing at this campaign rally. Nor at this celebration at the ruling party H.Q. after their election win.

And it was business as usual for these soccer fans, thousands packed tightly, no masks in sight. As protesters surrounded the parliament building on Tuesday night, they chanted "arrest Vucic, " and "treason." Both police and demonstrators were injured, but with frustration over the country's leadership boiling over, many have vowed to continue taking to the streets -- Milena Veselinovic, CNN, London.


NEWTON: Next on CNN NEWSROOM, what are the riskiest things he could do during a pandemic?

I know you want to know and we will have some answers for you, up next.

Plus, search and rescue missions underway in Japan after devastating floods left dozens dead. And forecasters say, unfortunately, the threat is not over yet. We will have more on that, next.




NEWTON: I want to welcome you back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Paula Newton with our top story.

Health officials in the United States now confirmed more than 3 million coronavirus infections, about one-quarter of all known cases in the world. At least 35 states now seeing a surge in daily infection rates and in some areas the number of hospitalizations is rising to levels not seen in months -- or ever.


Despite the escalating outbreak, President Donald Trump is pushing for schools to reopen. On Twitter, he blasted the Center for Disease Control and Prevention for its recommendation on how to do it safely. Hours later, Vice President Mike Pence said the agency would soon issue new guidelines.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES: It's time -- it's time for us to get our kids back to school. It's absolutely essential that we get our kids back into classroom for in-person learning. This is not just simply about making sure our kids are learning and they're advancing academically, but for their mental health, for their well- being, for their physical health, for nutrition. We got to get our kids back to school.


NEWTON: And for some insight here, we go to Angela Rasmussen. She's a virologist at the Columbia University. She joins me now this hour from Washington. And we have to touch on the schools, right? This has been such an agonizing few weeks for parents, especially in the United States, and -- but right around the world.

And I just want to preface this by saying we have heard so much from studies that while, you know, kids perhaps are not at risk the way adults are, that people are worried that in fact they can spread this virus and there have been conflicting studies about that, to be honest. What do you think the data so far, the studies so far tell us about a safe return to school for children?

ANGELA RASMUSSEN, VIROLOGIST, COLUMBIA MAILMAN SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Well, you're absolutely right that the data has been conflicting about whether children can spread the virus. But we do know that they can certainly become infected with it, and in rare cases, they can develop this multisystem inflammatory disease that can be very serious and in some rare cases, even lethal for children. So it's not completely safe to open schools for kids.

But it's certainly not safe right now to open schools in especially the places where there are these hotspots where there are cases surging. And it's really not going to be completely safe to open schools until the community transmission that is out of control gets back under control until we flatten that curve.

The reason for that is that schools don't exist in a bubble separate from the rest of the community. They're part of the community. And so, if there's out of control community transmission going on, that's going to affect the people in the schools, both potentially the children, the people in their households, as well as the faculty and staff at those schools.

NEWTON: So just to make a fine point of it. You are clear. If you are sitting in Arizona right now, in Florida, if the case load is as high as it is right now, or if you're sitting in other places around the world that are having, unfortunately, many more new positive cases today, you're saying it's not safe yet to send kids to school.

RASMUSSEN: It's really not because we don't know enough about children's abilities to transmit the virus to other people in their household, people like grandparents, people who may have other pre- existing medical conditions who may be very vulnerable to this, because there is so much community transmission and because children aren't existing in a bubble that is separate from the rest of the community.

Opening schools is basically reopening another environment that is enclosed where there is an increased risk of transmission where children are for long periods of time. And that is really a very dangerous risk. We're actually seeing the results of that type of reopening in states like Arizona, Texas, and Florida right now.

NEWTON: Yes. And, you know, I have to kind of backtrack and just really hang on what you just said about that, because people will remember that the reason the lockdowns happened early on was to try and get the case slowed down so that the curve would be crushed, so that it would be safe for the kids to return to school in August and September.

Listen, the Texas Medical Association released some helpful information on what they determined to be risky and safe behavior. You know, it's not maybe much a surprise in terms of what isn't risky. You know, you can pump gasoline, you can even play tennis, go camping, and get groceries, which is a good thing, go for a walk and all of that.

I want to talk to you -- talk to you about the riskier behaviors. You know, really high on the list is going to a bar, is going to the gym, is going to a buffet, and yet these things are going on.

RASMUSSEN: Yes. So that really is the problem with why cases are surging in some places because even though we flattened the curve, in some places, you know, we crushed the curve, we brought community transmission way down, that doesn't mean we eradicated it from the community.

And even a little bit of community transmission, low levels when you open up these high-risk behaviors, such as going to a bar for example. Going to a bar checks off all the high-risk boxes or higher risk boxes. It's usually indoors. They can be tightly packed; people aren't wearing masks.

They might be drinking so they might be less inhibited and less willing to observe physical distancing as carefully as they would be, and they may be spending long periods of time there. All of those different activities are -- they increase your risk of transmission or of transmitting it to others.


NEWTON: Yes. Some of these decisions that people are making literally by the hour in their daily lives, you know, tough calls all around and why we appreciate your expertise. Angela Rasmussen, thanks so much for giving us your insights there.

RASMUSSEN: My pleasure, Paula.

NEWTON: Now, a 106-year-old man in India has become the country's oldest man to beat the Coronavirus. Mukhtar Ahmed was recently discharged from a New Delhi hospital. The treatment there helped him to recover from the disease. The centenarian was just four years old at the time of the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918, which killed, I'll remind you, 50 million people.


MUKHTAR AHMED, COVID-19 SURVIVOR: There were many pandemics before. Those pandemics had killed many people. But the world has never suffered as it is suffering during the COVID-19 outbreak.


NEWTON: Wow. He looks fantastic as well. India is the world's third worst hit country by the Coronavirus pandemic with more than 742,000 cases.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador celebrated the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement at their first in person meeting on Wednesday. Now, of course, notably absent was Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. His office said he was dealing with cabinet meetings and a new parliamentary session.

There was a lack of social distancing, as you can see, in face masks at the White House under Mr. Trump. The U.S. and Mexico have feuded over various issues from a border wall to tariffs and Mr. Trump's inflammatory remarks about Mexican migrants.

But President Lopez Obrador said his counterpart is now treating Mexico "with kindness and respect." The president signed a joint declaration on the new North American trade agreement which replaced NAFTA.


ANDRES MANUEL LOPEZ OBRADOR, PRESIDENT, MEXICO (through translator): The other element that I consider fundamental and just is the guarantee of better salaries and better labor conditions for the workers of the three countries. This was not included in the previous agreement.


NEWTON: And Japan is mobilizing tens of thousands of first responders to search for and rescue survivors amid devastating flash floods. So far, at least 57 people have been killed after days of torrential rain in southern Japan. We have more now from journalist Kaori Enjoji who joins me now from Tokyo.

And I know you've been following this carefully, and we have to make a fine point of it, right? People have been evacuated, about a half a million. And this is still in the middle of, you know, pandemic precautions in Japan.

KAORI ENJOJI, JOURNALIST: That's right, Paula. It is day six of these record rains across many parts of Japan. And among the casualties are 14 who were from an elderly care home in Kumamoto that was flooded with water. Thousands, hundreds of thousands are still under evacuation orders as rescuers search for the missing.


ENJOJI: Devastating scenes in southwestern Japan. Days of torrential rain have brought multiple landslides and caused rivers to overflow. The area has seen some of the most severe flooding in years. Dozens of died and homes and property has been destroyed.

This is the scene from the air along the Kuma River. Homes ripped from their foundation, cars strewn around, the aftermath of what was certainly a nightmare for many. Survivors picked through the rubble Wednesday trying to salvage what was left of their belongings. The government has mobilized tens of thousands of first responders.

YOSHIHIDE SUGA, CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY, JAPAN (through translator): About 80,000 members from the police fire department and Japan Coast Guard are on a search and rescue mission. Our policy is saving people's lives first, and we will make our very best effort in our mission.

ENJOJI: A local gym and one neighborhood has been turned into a rescue shelter. COVID-19 is not far from the minds of those here. Cardboard petitions separate the more than 200 evacuees in an effort to ensure social distancing. Signs are displayed reminding people to wear masks and take their temperature each morning.

This 48-year-old nurse says she had no intention of leaving home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): When I opened the front door to have my dog pee and poo, it was like a river. It was a view I have never seen before.

ENJOJI: But when she did, other than people gathering for chat, she says she hasn't been too concerned about COVID-19.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): The fact that there have been no Coronavirus patients in this area proves that we are doing the best we can for prevention.

ENJOJI: Heavy rains are forecast over large areas of the country through Friday, and more flooding and landslide warnings are still in place in several areas.



ENJOJI: Rainy season, Paula, usually continues until around the middle of the month. And government officials say they still haven't been able to reach people in dozens of village in some of the rural areas because they've been cut off by river water and debris. Not everyone is choosing to go to these evacuation shelters saying that they are afraid of COVID-19 and they prefer to wait it out at home or even in their cars. Paula?

NEWTON: Yes, it must be a terrible decision, especially when you see the ferocity of the flash floods there. Kaori, thanks so much for bringing this story. I appreciate it. People in Havana can finally enjoy the beach again, but international visitors will have to wait. And that's one reason why some Cuban business owners don't know if they'll make it. Stay with us.


NEWTON: United Airlines is warning 36,000 workers they may be furloughed or laid off later this year. That's nearly half the company's frontline workforce including pilots, flight attendants, gate agents and maintenance workers. Notices went out on Wednesday since U.S. law requires a 60-day heads up on mass layoffs. The airline says it's operating only a quarter of its flights compared to last year.

I want to bring in CNN's John Defterios live this hour in Abu Dhabi. I mean, there's still a lot of economic pain to come and yet market, some of them incredibly resilient. And the one that has standout in -- standout in Asia is Shanghai.

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN BUSINESS EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Yes, certainly it has, Paula. This has been on a tear for the last week. And it's not just about the economic recovery in China and how that plays into earnings, but a sense of national pride as well. We even had a Chinese owned state equities journal suggesting that it would give a nice diplomatic lift to Xi Jinping in this rebuilding effort over the course of 2020.

And that certainly has driven a 17 percent gain over the last month, and half of that coming in the last week alone. And China feeling a little bit bolder as well. Wang Yi, the foreign minister today in Beijing was suggesting that the U.S. has to come up with a different narrative because bilateral relations between Washington and Beijing haven't been this bad for 40 years.

And you can have a long list to look at here. Huawei, the telecoms operator, the telecoms equipment makers ZTE, TikTok, the list is long. And even with the security law by China in Hong Kong, there's a report out in the last 24 hours that the U.S. wants to undermine that dollar pegged to the Hong Kong currency, which has been around since 1983.

A reminder here for China, though back in 2015, we had the same kind of nationalist tone in the stock market. And Paula, it ended in tears. This is a market that has been on a tear, but indeed, it seems to be mixed up with other motivations here for China globally.


NEWTON: Yes. Certainly, a lot of people on a bubble watch with that. Now, in about just under six hours from now, we will get the latest weekly jobless claims for the United States. And still some of those figures just stubbornly high.

DEFTERIOS: Indeed, Paula. And many of our viewers probably wonder why are you covering this every week. It's because we had this kind of flatlining of a very high number. Let's take a look at the expectations. We're looking at 1.37 million expected for the last week in terms of filing. That's about seven times higher than what we saw prior to the pandemic. And the trend line was coming down, Paula, and that was kind of the positive coming out of it.

When you see the cases surging again with regards to the pandemic, you have to expect they're going to go higher. There's reoccurring numbers here, nearly 19 million. That means people couldn't find work, and they're coming back time and again to get the unemployment benefits from the U.S. government.

You talked about United Airlines, right? This is a classic case in point of the frontline. Airlines, hospitality, hotels, restaurants, lots of layoffs. You're looking at a furloughing of 36,000 workers and that's even after the government has put up billions of dollars to provide those salaries. They're saying, after those salaries end, we may have to -- have to furlough those 36,000 people.

Extraordinary numbers, Paula, and this will drive up the unemployment rate probably in the third and fourth quarter.

NEWTON: Yes. And such a good reminder that we are so far from recovery of this global economy. John Defterios for us in Abu Dhabi, I really appreciate it. Brooks Brothers, the men's clothing retailer known for addressing Wall Street bankers has now filed for bankruptcy protection. The pandemic played a role of course, but as CNN's Clare Sebastian explains, changing tastes and the 200-year-old company, it all added up to a tailor-made fall.


CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the destruction wrought by the Coronavirus pandemic on U.S. retail shows no sign of letting up. Now, another storied American brand Brooks Brothers, which claims the title of America's oldest clothing retailer has been forced to seek bankruptcy protection.

The company is more than 200 years old. It prides itself on having dressed 40 U.S. presidents everyone from Abraham Lincoln, to John F. Kennedy. But it really suffered during the Coronavirus pandemic and not just because of the obvious, the store closures, the huge collapse in retail traffic that we saw in the first few months, but also because of a shift that was already underway.

People addressing more casually, particularly in office setting. Pinstripe suits and button-down shirts are no longer the uniform. And Brooks Brothers was really on the wrong side of that. And especially now that we see so many people working from home, that isn't going to change.

So, the company says it wants to stay in business. It has $75 million in financing to get it through bankruptcy, and it's looking actively for a buyer. Clare Sebastian, CNN, New York.


NEWTON: Businesses and beaches in Havana meantime have reopened after a lockdown that lasted more than three months. The government says it has nearly eliminated the virus there but that doesn't mean Cuba is welcoming tourists just yet. CNN'S Patrick Oppmann takes a closer look.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The doors are open again, even if it's not business as usual at Havana's El Cafe. Cuba was on lockdown for more than three months. But following a massive countrywide effort to bring the Coronavirus under control, the government is now easing restrictions, allowing businesses like this one to reopen.

Staff at restaurants like El Cafe have to wear masks, rearrange the tables to allow social distancing, and sterilize the hands of every customer that comes in. Owner Nelson says that after four years serving some of Havana's best coffee and all-day breakfast, he's starting from scratch.

NELSON RODRIGUEZ TAMAYO, CUBAN RESTAURANT OWNER: It was completely in the saucer like collapse. And I go down and I feel like I start again the business.

OPPMANN: While hard hit economically by the Coronavirus, Cuba's program of extensive contact tracing, isolating the sick, and closing borders paid off. Health officials say there are now less than a few dozen active cases of Coronavirus on the island of 11 million people.

On the first day the beach reopened, Cubans swam in the pristine blue waters that have been tantalizing forbidden to them all these weeks.


It's been really good for me and my family to get refreshed, get some air and some sun, Michel says. But it's also important to maintain the hygiene and safety measures.

That will be crucial to preventing a resurgence of cases and allowing the island to fully reopen. Havana is in stage one of recovery. And it won't be until stage three that the city's airport once again reopens to regular commercial flights.

This is the Malecon Seawall, Havana's couch Cubans called, because everyone comes out here to sit on it. But for months it was eerily empty, off limits. Now that people are permitted to come back out here, life does feel like it's returning to normal. But there's still that strange sensation of being on an island that is almost entirely cut off from the rest of the world.

For the time being, only hotels on five keys, small islands off the coast of Cuba are open to foreign visitors to keep further infection from spreading to the mainland. Both guests and hotel workers will be regularly tested health officials say.

So for the time being, the rest of the island is inaccessible to the tourists who Nelson estimates made up 80 percent of his clientele before the outbreak.

TAMAYO: Were going to be more creative and I need to -- I will enjoy more different things, focusing other customer.

OPPMANN: Cubans have endured hurricanes, economic sanctions, and near economic collapse. And now the first wave of Coronavirus, even if this isn't a full recovery, the hope is that this new normal will last. Patrick Oppmann, CNN Havana.


NEWTON: Next on CNN NEWSROOM, the mystery over the SAT after Donald Trump's niece claimed he paid someone to take his high school exam. Internet sleuths got busy trying to track down the supposed test taker.


NEWTON: North American Major League Soccer says it's back but that's only partly true, unfortunately. Just one of two scheduled matches took place on reopening night. The other was postponed due to players testing positive for Coronavirus. Orlando City and Inter Miami did face off becoming, in fact, the first professional games.

Now, since that has happened, in fact, many teams have been grappling with trying to get back to play and all eyes on the NBA who are now in a bubble in Orlando.

Now, to internet sleuths who are trying to score the name of the guy who allegedly took President Trump's college aptitude tests, the SAT for him, apparently. Now the hashtag, #SAT is trending. Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Did young Donald Trump pay someone to take his SAT for him? It was enough to inspire hashtag SAT guy where are you? Who is SAT guy? Former Clinton White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart tweeted, "I'll start the fun. 10K for the kid who took the SAT's for Trump."

It became fodder for satire. Putin admits taking SAT for Trump. And inspiration for an impersonator.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really absurd claims out of nowhere that I -- someone took the SAT for me, OK. Not true, totally false. I know you would believe that because you -- well, you ask stupid questions.

MOOS: The real White House said much the same. "The absurd SAT allegation is completely false." It's true young Donald wanted to get into the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You got to be very smart to get into that school, very smart.

MOOS: The President's niece wrote, to hedges bets, he enlisted Joe Shapiro, a smart kid with a reputation for being a good test taker to take his SAT for him. And without the internet hunt was on. Where have you gone Joe Shapiro.

TRUMP: I'm a very stable genius.

MOOS: The geniuses online wasted no time discovering a Joe Shapiro who was friends with Trump at Penn, but that Shapiro died 21 years ago, and his wife former tennis star Pam Shriver told CNN, the idea of him taking a test for somebody doesn't add up to who Joe was.

And family members don't recall Joe meeting Trump until they were both already attending Penn after the SAT's would have been taken. Author Mary Trump's best friend confirms.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's not the Joe Shapiro.

MOOS: Remember when Trump fixer Michael Cohen testified that then- candidate Trump had ordered him to write letters.

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER LAWYER OF DONALD TRUMP: That threatened his high school, colleges, and the college board not to release his grades or SAT scores.

MOOS: But were they his scores? Trump fan save the allegation, prove it. How does she know? And while the niece is pointing fingers at her uncle, he prefers pointing fingers at his brain. Jeanne Moos, CNN.

TRUMP: The fingers aren't as good as the brain.

MOOS: New York.


NEWTON: OK, and thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Paula Newton. The news continues right here with Rosemary Church after a quick break.


ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world.